What is Bipolar Disorder and How Can We Help?

Have you ever cycled through a wide range of emotions and assumed it was a small case of mood swings? That’s certainly possible, but another explanation may be bipolar affective disorder (BPAD), a type of mood disorder that cycles between extreme depression and elevated mania for extended periods of time.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder affects approximately 2.6 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 18. Bipolar disorder involves the cycling between mania and depression over weeks to months. Symptoms of mania might be decreased need for sleep (or lack of sleep), more energy, fast-paced talking, and more productivity. In some cases, it may lead to reckless behaviors that can result in consequences such as jail time. Signs of depression may include feelings of despair, sadness, hopelessness, a lack of energy, and changes in sleep cycle and appetite.

There are three main types of bipolar disorder that range from severe to mild.

“The three types are Bipolar 1, Bipolar 2, and Cyclothymic disorder,” says Austin Prince, psychiatric resident at Centerstone.

Bipolar 1 is the most severe type, with larger shifts between mania and depression. A manic episode lasts from a couple of weeks to months. After that, the person shifts, slowly or quickly, to a deep depressive episode for a couple of months.

Bipolar 2 is similar to Bipolar 1 with huge shifts in mood, but the symptoms of mania are less severe, while the symptoms of depression are just as severe as they are in Bipolar 1.

Cyclothymic disorder is the least severe type of BPAD, where the highs and lows are both less severe.

“In comparing all of the types of BPAD, cyclothymic is often missed because people often assume their mood swings are a feature of their personality,” says Dr. Prince.

Here are several ways to help individuals experiencing BPAD:

  • Treatment. Treatment can look different depending on when the person experiencing symptoms receives it. If they are having a manic episode or depressive episode, treatment may include psychotherapy along with mood-stabilizing medication to re-balance their mood.
  • Accountability. Educate yourself on the importance of medication adherence, and what the warning signs of non-adherence might look like. Encourage your friends and family with BPAD to stay consistent with treatment.
  • Schedule. One of the most important ways to manage BPAD is by keeping a daily schedule or consistent routine. It is helpful to schedule everything out, including sleep, self-care, exercise, and more.
  • Understanding. “If you have a family member or friend who is experiencing BPAD, try to understand and forgive them for behaviors that might be hurtful but that can be directly attributed to BPAD,” says Dr. Prince, “It is important to separate such behaviors from the person.”

Those who experience bipolar disorder might have challenges, but there are many options available to help them succeed and for community members to support them along the way.

If you or someone you know is experiencing low mood or struggling with their mental health, Centerstone can help. Call 1-877-HOPE123 (1-877-467-3123) for more information.

Location Finder



Related Posts

Supporting Caregivers’ Mental Health

Caregivers
Health & Wellness
Have you ever given thought to how much work caregivers do? Caregivers are willing to set aside their own ...

Burnout Mental Health stress

Prioritizing Your Mental Health

Physical Health
Health & Wellness
When someone experiences ongoing physical pain, they typically visit a primary care physician, and if that person experiences other ...

Mental Health Physical Health tips

15 Ways to Express Gratitude

Family Matters
Health & Wellness
Gratitude is much more than just saying “thank you” or “I’m grateful for you.” Practicing and living with gratitude ...

holidays Family Matters Mental Health

How stress and burnout are bad for your mental health

Mental Health
Health & Wellness
For many people, there is not enough time to devote to everything we want to accomplish in a given ...

stress Burnout Mental Health

What is Gaslighting?

Mental Health
Health & Wellness
Approximately three in four adults have no idea what gaslighting is and likely do not know the signs. Gaslighting ...

Mental Health abuse Gaslighting

Call Now

photo of
Centerstone
helpnow@centerstone.org
44 Vantage Way
Nashville, TN, 37228 United States
877-467-3123